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Wednesday October 31, 2001

Time for city teach-in 



As an inhabitant of the planet earth, a citizen of the USA and a resident of Berkeley I thank the Berkeley City Council most gratefully for their recent vote on stopping the bombing of Afghanistan.  

Now that the Berkeley City Council has garnered national attention I think they should go a step further and contribute to widening, or should I say surfacing, the public debate about the United States “war” on Afghanistan. I use the term “war” judiciously, in quotes, because being that we’re the richest country of the world bombing the hell out of one of the poorest countries of the world I think it could more correctly be termed a massacre. For all the defense department denials which assert that we are not inflicting significant civilian casualties I think there is enough credible independent confirmation that, in fact, we are killing many civilians – at least a number of whom are too poor and helpless to escape the bombing, including the elderly and children. It reminds me of another of our country’s most glorious moments where, in the Gulf “War,” our troops dispatched a decimated, retreating Iraqi army, in the words of one of our soldiers, “like shooting fish in a barrel.” Is there any question that our current strategy will bring anything more than further hatred and the likelihood of more violence toward our country? Our distinguished leaders tell us to expect this.  

I believe these are extraordinary times and as such they demand extraordinary measures and that this “war” does in fact have a direct bearing on the City of Berkeley’s day to day business. Each one of those not-so-smart bombs and missiles, all the fuel for those billion dollar bombers and dozens of navy ships, and all the other expenses associated with this endeavor are going to add up to quite a tab at the end of the “fun and games.” That is, if there is an end. With the Afghan winter fast approaching our military offense will become severely impeded there and from recent days’ news reports it appears Bush, Rumsfeld and Company are looking to keep the ball rolling by initiating military actions in the Philippines and very likely Iraq. While it may be argued that a certain number of our citizens will score big on newfound employment in the arms industry, I believe the cost of the “war” will have a dramatic negative impact on our nation’s ability to maintain and sustain its current standard of living. In all likelihood there will be severe cutbacks in federal subsidies to states and cities in the realm of housing, social services, education and infrastructure programs.  

Therefore it behooves the City Council to discuss this issue now and make their voice heard by the nation and federal government. 

I’d like the City Council to host a teach-in, town hall type meeting to broaden the public’s awareness about the “war” from the view of those educated persons who represent an anti-war sentiment and have pretty much been shut out of the mainstream media-which has become a cheering chorus for our government’s policy. I envision the format of a City Council meeting held at a very large capacity auditorium – I don’t think the Berkeley Community theatre will be large enough. It would be a one or two day event. The invited speakers would be given 20 to 40 minutes to present their views at the microphone (the podium of which would be turned around to face the audience). Then they would answer questions from the audience and the Council. Here are some of the people I’d like to see give their views: Ralph Nader, Howard Zinn, Retired Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll and others. 

I think it highly unlikely that the national media could ignore the event or distort the collective message. I really doubt the accuracy of recent polls saying 90 percent of the American public is willing to see its sons and daughters come home in body bags for a reckless military endeavor with no clear achievable goals. I think there is a vast sea of public opinion waiting to be guided by the a loud collective enunciation of good old fashioned American common sense. How about it Berkeley City council? 


Peter Teichner 



Sanity in city 



Here’s my support for you in your passing of the Afghanistan resolution. At least one city could be sane. 

Ed Light 




Dreaming of democracy 


We need to start referring to George Bush’s war on terrorism as the “so-called war on terrorism.” Here are the facts. On September 13, Bush called for war on terrorism, bin Laden, and his organization. Bombing started on Oct. 7, as the CIA tracked the location of Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban. Omar wasn’t bombed. The CIA admitted (on Oct. 15) that they didn’t have the authority to kill him. 

Since then many bombs were dropped, inflicting major damage to “military targets” and also to Red Cross shelters and food storage warehouses (oops, Sorry!). Then, on October 23, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld back-peddled on the original reason for this war saying that maybe we won’t be able to get bin Laden after all. A day later (Oct. 24) Navy Rear Admiral Stufflebeem admitted that, gee, these Taliban are tougher than we expected. 

Now (Oct. 27), we learn that Afghan resistance fighter, Abdul Haq, called for CIA assistance as the Taliban were closing in on his fighters. The CIA didn’t come to his rescue. Future Afghan resistance fighters may well think twice about who is backing them up. Perhaps they should consult with the widows of the Kurd resistance fighters in Iraq who were similarly abandoned by Bush’s father during desert storm.  

Two conclusions can be drawn. First, the bombing is likely to stop soon because it is clear the Pentagon has run out of targets when (Oct. 27) they intentionally bombed the same Red Cross food warehouse for a second time. Starvation is now forecast for over 200,000 Afghanis. This, presumably, is the reprisal for 6,000 Americans killed on Sept. 11. 

The net result will be a massive increase of volunteers into the ranks of the Taliban. Second, this war, and our government, are being run by incompetent nincompoops. I wish we had a democracy where leaders were elected by the majority of votes. 


Bruce Joffe 






It was the time of year when a big pumpkin-colored moon rises up in the dark evening sky. And the cold nights cause apples to sweeten and crisp and smell delicious. When little goblins and angels anticipate their special day to “trick of treat.” But there are devilish details in this picture of Berkeley, October 2001. You can almost see the Cheshire cat smile lingering on while someone slips strangely shaped amphibians into a steaming brew. A gang of jolly pirate circles ‘round a big map of Berkeley, singing lustily:  

“Who put the gerrymanders in Blake/O’Malley’s cauldron?” 

Nobody answered, as the fun had just begun, 

They were carving up the city, 

As they sang this little ditty, 

“The gerrymander’s in Blake/O’Malley’s cauldron!” 

Note: They moved over 4,000 students into Council District 8 and then gerrymandered the entire city to their advantage!  


Merilie Mitchell 





Council kudos 


I read about the City Council’s action to publicly renounce the U.S. crusade of violence. This is a rare occurrence and I applaud it! Thank you for your courage! 


Jon Fader 

Indianapolis, IN 



More council kudos 

The Daily Planet received a copy of this letter sent to the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce: 


As a former Bay Area resident, I applaud the City Council’s courage in speaking out against the bombing campaign in Afghanistan. Please lend them your support. Thank you. 

John Wages 

Tupelo, MS 



Neighborhood store good for residents 


Regarding the article this past weekend about the ZAB meeting, I find that the proposed "solutions" to targeted problems surrounding Brothers Liquors miss the mark. I have lived one block from Brothers Liquors for just over a year. I find the establishment to be a convenient and friendly place to pick up a last minute grocery item or snack. 

I love this neighborhood and do not want it to be the victim of gentrification.  

Sure, I have walked by Brothers Liquors and seen people standing outside (though not visibly causing trouble).  

I also see people loitering in the two gas stations a block away at Shattuck and Ashby asking if they can wash people’s windshields. Each time I go to the Berkeley Bowl a couple of people try to sell me the latest issue of Street Spirit. Is there an outcry to shut down the gas station and the grocery store? 

Let’s not be hypocritical as a community. Shutting down a local market is not going to solve any problems.  

I am very disappointed in the city’s misguided efforts to "help" my neighborhood.  

Rather than blame the proprietors of the market for misconduct of people in the surrounding area, why can we not expect local law enforcement to make it safe and possible for them to conduct their legitimate business? 


Liz Gill 

Robert Mann